Say What You Mean: Opinion and Fact

WRITTEN May 23, 2014 Author: Rich Atkins

Opinion and Fact Depend On Audience

Express opinion and fact in the correct settings to make your point effectively. For example, when expressing an opinion among friends, instead of saying that something “is the best,” say, “I think it is the best.” Here is where phrases like “I feel,” “I think,” and “I believe” work very well. You’re sharing a belief with friends. It’s fine to use those examples of soft language. In personal discussions about opinions, it’s not necessary to use strong language. In fact, opinions stated as fact with friends (“That movie was the worst …”) may alienate them.

In business, it’s different. “I feel,” “I think,” and “I believe” weaken your position. They take away your credibility as an expert. Think about how these examples come off as sounding lame, or wishy-washy:

  • “I feel that we need a new photocopy machine.”
  • “I think you’ve got some decay on that molar. The tooth is probably going to have to come out.”

They don’t inspire much confidence, do they?

Take away the weak language (“I feel that,” “I think,”and “probably”) and then you will have statements of fact. Remember, experts know the facts.

Facts are statements that are true or false, they can be verified.  Meanwhile, opinions are statements that express feeling, attitude, or belief.  Use them correctly and your audience will have the information they need from you. 

Remember, when using statistics make sure they are researched and accurate. Sometimes, people say things like “I’m 99 percent sure that …”  A statement like that is almost never believable.

In your own writing or when giving a speech, make your own opinions more convincing by using facts to support them. As communicators, we want to gain the confidence of others. Communicating accurately builds credibility.

This information is from the Improving Communications Effective Business Writing class as well as being covered in our Public Speaking Training classes. If you’re looking for ways to improve your communication skills, register for one of our public classes.
Photo courtesy of John Lord.

Other Resources:

The Difference Between Fact and Opinion

Older People Are Worse Than Young People At Telling Fact From Opinion

I Found It On The Internet, It Must Be True

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